How To Setup Custom Music On Hold for Your VOIP System

music on hold, voip music on hold, ring central, cisco, avaya, shoretel

Over the past decade or so, telecom equipment has evolved and with it, brought what seemingly is the future of telecom – VOIP! … VOIP phone systems (also called “virtual” or “IP”), are cloud-based, or offsite digital phones. Some popular brands include  Allworx, Avaya, Cisco, Onsip, Comcast, Ring Central, Vonage Business, Verizon and others.

Unlike traditional phone lines that keep workers chained to their desks, VoIP phone systems give greater mobility. An IPBX is well equipped to face complex communication management than traditional PBXs. Particularly as a business grows and requirements change, it’s extremely easy to add services, extensions and customizations. In contrast, a hosted VoIP plan does not require you to purchase equipment. A third party provides the hardware at an offsite location and you will only be paying for the use of this hardware.

While we’ve covered in a previous post at our blog that most providers, falsely believe that music on hold is unimportant and ignore the strong customer demand for a better solution. Today we’re going to revisit this topic and update you as some hosted VOIP services have begun to dig deeper into the music on hold problem, and those that have yet to catch-up which can adversely affect customer satisfaction.

Vonage Has Made Some Improvements
Yes, Vonage has made improvements to its music on hold feature. A business using Vonage may load up to 5 unique audio files (a maximum of 8MB each in size), and choose whether those files are served randomly or in a sequence. The audio file does play from the beginning each time, and will not reset to the start of the file if the caller is placed on hold a second or third time within the same call. There is no way to change files automatically, so you’ll be the one uploading and changing the audio files when the content expires or is no longer relevant.

Ring Central Still the Same Old, Same Old
As far as pre-set audio hold music, Ring Central’s choices are among the worst! However, there’s good news / bad news situation when it comes to music on hold with Ring Central. So, let’s start with the good news first. Ring Central allows the use of a custom on hold message or music on hold. This message on hold would replace the standard music only option that is the default. By using a custom hold message you greatly improve your business image and make better use of all the powerful features that this system provides. The bad news, Ring Central plays audio files from the beginning each and every time a caller is placed on hold. From the beginning each time? This can make your music on hold annoying. Hey Ring Central, it’s time for some improvements!

OnSIP and Asterisk May Be Leading The Way
OnSIP and Asterisk are advanced business phone system in the cloud. Not only do they feature very robust communication systems, but they’re one of the only VOIP providers who have taken into consideration that businesses not only want feature rich systems with scalability and cost savings, but the ability to use the telephone as a marketing tool by integrating streaming MOH capability. This allows you to manage all content programming, including time-of-day and day-specific announcements, automatic start and stop dates and more. Now, the only problem is very few music on hold providers offer streaming audio solutions, but you won’t need to search endlessly as The Original On Hold remains on the forefront of the industry and has been offering streaming on-hold solutions for several years.

ShoreTel, Allworx and X-Blue Offer the Hybrid Effect
Unlike many other VOIP and hosted VOIP solutions ShoreTel, Allworx and XBlue are a hybrid set-up and uniquely support both standard telephone company lines and Internet based VoIP lines. Like other VOIP providers, business owners can upload audio files for their hold music, but face the same pitfalls and limitations of file size and always starting from the beginning each time someone calls. The silver lining is that these systems do allow for external on hold media devices to be connected, so that the on hold file will be in a loop and not start from the beginning each and every time someone calls you.

Verizon
As one of the largest U.S. communications services provider you would think at least these guys can do music on hold properly, but they definitely fall short. One of the biggest pitfalls of VOIP and hosted VOIP providers is the hold music file always starting from the beginning each time someone calls, and just when we thought things couldn’t get worse – Verizon has proven us wrong! What could possibly be worse than hold music starting from the beginning each time? How about hold music that has a maximum length of 90 seconds. Not only will callers get the audio file at the beginning each time, callers will be irate when hearing the same thing over and over while you tell them how important their call is.

As you can see not a lot has changed and most VOIP and hosted VOIP providers don’t do music on hold right. To rub salt in the wound, if you think you can download a song from iTunes and upload an mp3 file for your VOIP hold music – you can’t! Only a very, very small percentage of VOI{ systems can accept an mp3 audio file, and the vast majority of VOIP systems require audio files to be in specific compatible formats such as: ulaw, mlaw, ccitt, Vox, PCM, G711μ.

Unless you’re an audio engineer most of this probably seems like it’s all Greek to you. And, don’t expect your VOIP provider to help. Remember they’re in the telecom business, not the music on hold business.

So, if you’re considering making the switch to a VOIP or hosted VOIP system, then consult with a professional music and message on hold provider about the best solution.

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